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Word of the Day
Thursday, November 17, 2016

Definitions for sycophant

  1. a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.

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Citations for sycophant
The sycophant may well be called the provider of peace of mind for those in authority…. The sycophant is ever watchful and manages to keep his chief from feeling unduly bothered by conscience or commonsense. R. K. Narayan, "The Sycophant," A Writer's Nightmare: Selected Essays 1958–1988, 1988
The most tyrannical and yet pathetic of fathers, who acts as both trainer and chief sycophant to his son … informs his boy that he looks like something out of Michelangelo, though he looks much more like the Michelin Tire man … John Simon, "Truth: No Stranger Than Fiction," New York, January 24, 1977
Origin of sycophant
1530-1540
Sycophant comes from the Latin noun sȳcophanta "slanderer, informer," from the Greek noun sȳkophántēs "informer," literally "fig shower," from sŷkon "fig" and phaínein "to show." The significance of figs is uncertain: it was formerly thought that the word referred to someone who informed against the illegal export of figs; but it is more probable that because sŷkon also meant "vulva" (Aristophanes' Peace, the word referred to showing what cannot be decently shown, e.g., as French faire la figue.) The word entered English in the late 1500s.